In just his second full season as a head coach, D.C. United’s Ben Olsen has received one of MLS’s highest honors: He will guide the league’s all-star team against European champion Chelsea on July 25 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
“Apparently, they ran out of candidates for this all-star thing, so they chose the closest guy to save some money on train tickets and things,” he joked. “No, obviously it’s an honor. This league has been a huge part of my life, both playing and coaching, and it’s given me a lot.”
Olsen replaces Peter Nowak, who was fired this month by the Philadelphia Union. In April, Nowak was appointed, in large part, because the Union is the all-star host.
The league turned to Olsen for several reasons, led by the fact United (9-4-3) is first in the Eastern Conference. Also, his proximity to Philadelphia alleviated logistical issues and United doesn’t have a regular season match for which to prepare the weekend after the Wednesday all-star game.
Lastly, Olsen has Pennsylvania roots: He is from Middletown, near Harrisburg, and played for FC Delco, an elite youth club based in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Philadelphia interim coach John Hackworth will assist Olsen. United assistants Chad Ashton, Pat Onstad and Sonny Silooy will also join Olsen on the all-star bench.